But because this is a new type of disease, scientists and public health authorities are learning in real time—for more than a year and a half, knowledge on key topics such as immunization and long-term Covid has continued to evolve. Scientists often look for answers while the public is searching for answers, but this is not always clear to ordinary people, and they may expect immediate and authoritative information.
“One of the things [public health authorities] It doesn’t have to be this way, we need to see that going forward is actually conveying uncertainty,” said Renée DiResta, technical research manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory.
DiResta says that this ambiguity in public health information—and sometimes conflicts—may penetrate the media and create a vacuum, where misleading or unverified information may worsen and spread.
“Anyone with an opinion can fill this gap,” she added.
All this conflicting information, coupled with the reality of slow scientific timetables, will exacerbate mistrust. The public did not see the changes in the official guidelines as a sign that the health authorities are responding responsibly to the new data, but it is easy to believe that these authorities and the media made a mistake again—for example, when the CDC changed the mask guidelines. Politically motivated actors take advantage of this distrust.Sloppy headlines and misleading tweets Predictions made by reputable news media or journalists that are outdated can be reused as “trap” memes, which are used by ultra-partisan influencers to continue to weaken trust in the media.
“An entity like Newsmax will seize any opportunity to discover false positives or changed facts from CNN broadcasts,” DiResta said.
Public health officials (and reporters who report what the officials say and do) need a better system to convey information we don’t yet know, and explain that the guidance may change based on new information. DiResta proposed a Wikipedia-like approach When it comes to public health, the evolution of scientific knowledge and debate is open and transparent, and a wide range of experts can contribute their knowledge. “It will never go back to the old way. They make some decisions in a secret room and propose a unified consensus to the trusted public,” she said. “That model is over.”
We have seen this kind of scientific back-and-forth communication between researchers, public health experts, and doctors on social media. According to Erika Check Hayden, a science reporter and director of the Science Communication Program at the University of California, Santa Cruz, journalists need to remember to do their responsibilities to increase their chances of scientific deliberation.
“From a reporter’s point of view, it can provide information if you understand [how experts] We are studying what happened,” she said. “If you grasp this at any given moment and portray it as some kind of conclusion, it will be useless. “
For ordinary readers, this is also a good suggestion.
Focus on the most useful things
So, how can you find reliable news that is closely related to your life? One option is to pay attention to sources, especially local sources, which do not only focus on individual reports. The daily digital background reports you see may be more helpful than endless series of stories that simply tell the top-line data.
Southern District Weekly-A non-profit newspaper headquartered in Chicago-offers a different model. “Weekly” reported on the southern part of Chicago, a non-white majority area.A newspaper mainly composed of volunteers produced ChiVaxBot, An automated Twitter account that shares two maps side by side each day: the covid-19 vaccination rate by postal code and the covid-19 mortality rate by postal code. The daily update does not show a snapshot of the data for a certain day, but shows a pattern over time. Because of this consistent, slow tracking, the robots warned of vaccine differences: Black and Latino areas have high mortality rates, but vaccination rates are low, and this situation continues to this day.